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  • Writer's pictureClaire

14/02/24 Brisbane to Townsville

Happy Valentines day peeps! The alarm went off at 0330hours, and I could have cried. A grotty night's sleep in the overly warm room didn't help matters in the slightest. A cool shower, scrub of the old gnashers soon sorted us out though. We did a double check of the room to make sure nothing was left behind and went out to the front of the Motel to wait for the Uber. There was a taxi waiting, and Si started to pile Mildred in, not having booked an actual taxi, I thought it was probably a really good idea to check that the cab was in fact for us. It wasn't. Some bird called Sandra had booked it. Good luck Sandra, your driver is a grumpy old git. We sat down to wait for the Uber and he rolled up less than a minute later. He was doubtful that he'd get mildred in his car. Oh he of little faith, watch and learn sunshine, watch and learn! Within minutes Mildred was installed in the boot along with the sturdy one, I was in the back and Si hopped in the front. Lets go disco!!

The trip was only ten minutes and we were dropped right outside the Airports lifts for us to get in. It was another up, over, and down scenario but meant we had a nice easy roll with Mildred. When we entered the airport, it was just waking up, a bit like us really. We located a Jetstar staff member and checked in. They very kindly took our bags from us right there, transferred me from Mildred anto one of their chairs, tagged Mildred up and sent us on our merry way. Another lift to the next floor and we were ushered straight through security. As it was still practically night time, there was only the one coffee shop open, so we plonked ourselves at a table and ordered a brew. We had more than enough time to drink it, and then trundled down the corridor to our departure gate. When we arrived, they were almost ready for us to board, and we were taken down in a lift, again, out onto the tarmac to wait for the lift to come along and load me in. This was the coolest lift ever! I've never seen one like it before, and it reminded me of the tyre changer in the pixar movie Cars. It was a glorified stacker truck that had some safety rails either side, and a small canopy to keep passengers dry, really amusing. It was however, a very efficient and smooth transistion. Our seats were in the second row of the plane and we had the whole row to ourselves, which is always nice. The staff came and did a seperate safety briefing and let us know how it would go at the other end in Townsville.

The flight itself was 1 hour 35 minutes long, and not a bit of turbulance anywhere. As we came in towards Townsville, over lush, green tropical forests, mountains rivers and remote properties, the clouds were clearing, and it looked like it was gearing up to be a great day. Bloody magnificent! Once we landed, and got off the plane, we quickly colllected the Sturdy one, located Mildred and we were out of the terminal traveling at speed towards the taxi rank. We had a wait of less than 5 minutes and one pulled up. The driver was a chatty kind of fella, and was telling us about the cyclone that never hit a few weeks ago. It was just a little puff of wind according to him. He seemed to be most unimpressed by the whole thing, he did say he had experienced stronger winds in Melbourne, and in that I quite believe him! So for all the doom mongering from the media, it was a big fat nothing burger! The Hotel Allen, our home for the next two nights, was known to the driver which is always a bonus and he took us around the back so we were able to avoid the steps around the front.. Good man! We came to the conclusion that he still lives with his mother, he gave off serious " I live with my mum" vibes. Joking aside he was really great and a mountain of knowledge on the area and it's climate.

We walked through the entrance, and were faced with a door that had come off its runners somehow and had jammed. The girl inside sent us around the side and in the end we had to go up the steps. I'd already been in touch with them requesting that we stash the bags as it was an early flight to which they'd agreed. Fortunately, we were able to check in fully as the room was empty. What a result!. The lady on reception was lovely and super helpful, we had intended going to magntic Island today, but the early start meant we likely wouldn't have enjoyed it quite as much, so we elected to wait until tomorrow.

The Hotel is a big sprawling place, with a bar, pokies and restaraunt. Outside there is a nice swimmng pool, which looks extremely inviting and the rooms are just off the pool area. The room had a double and a single bed, which were clean, with brilliant white sheets and towels, and the aircon was excellent. Its a bit battered around the edges, but on the whole its clean and as we only intend sleeping in it, it was way more than we expected for the very low price. Despite being knackered, we decided that it was probably a good idea to keep going for a little while, so we went out to explore. The street the Hotel is on has the electricity off today so a few places are closed for the day. Just down the end of the street, is the beach and overlooking it is a cafe and bar. It wasn't open today, but hopefuly it will be tomorrow because it's in a fabulous location, with views looking out over to Magnetic Island, across water that today resembles a mill pond. We crossed back over the street and found an esspresso, gelatto and sweet bar called Julietes. It was packed, every seat outside was taken, and the staff were running around like little ants serving the food and drink at warp speed. We managed to locate a table, but it was inside rather than beneath the big shady leafy green tree. It was, in fact cooler inside so we didn't mind too much. We decided to have some brunch as by now we were both a bit peckish. The menu was generous and when it came, the food was wonderful. Lots of it and presented really nicely. Each table had a vase of red and white flowers on it, and a chunky wooden heart with the table numbers on. The place was decorated in red and it was really striking, I loved it. What I loved most though was the selection of dairy free gelatto in big glass fronted freezers. In another freezer, that I just happened to be sat by, there were gelatto cakes, and racks of delicious ice cream based deserts, ready prepared just screaming eat me!. Our drinks order came out quite quickly, and much sooner than I expected given the number of people sat outside and coming in to order. It seems to be the place to be! As its Valentines day, we decided we deserved deserts, and can I just say, the dark chocolate orange sorbet, and the coconut sorbet were the best I have ever tasted. The chocolate orange in particlar was like a Terrys chocolate orange. Not too sweet but really rich, and sooooo damn good! I need a recipie for that for sure. I think I will ask them tomorrow if it is home made or bought in. I'm hoping its homemade so I can recreate it when we get home!!

Whilst at Juliettes, I had a full on immersion experience of being blind. I needed the loo, and once I had my directions I went on my merry way to locate it. Before I went the waitress did say, be careful its very dark down the corridor as the electricity was off. With that advice ringing in my ears, off I went. When I located it, I thought what's she on about? it's fine, its just a bit gloomy. That was my first mistake, I openedthe door into utter blackness. My second mistake, was leaving my phone on the table next to my drink, it would have come in quite handy with the little torch function that all phones now have on them! As the door slammed shut behind me, I couldn't see my hand in front of me. Using my trusty stick to find my way, I avoided walking into anything. I even managed to locate the toilet, shut the door and all was going swimmingly. That was right up until my stick fell on the floor and I was forced to grope around on an extremely suspect toilet floor to locate it. With it now firmly grasped in my hand my next mission (which I chose to accept) was to locate the sink so I could wash my hands. The trusty stick, found another toilet cubicle which I discovered when the stick hit porcelain. Turning myself around, stick tapping out in front of me, I found the bin. Still no sink, but when the stick hit solid wall, I used my hand to feel across the wall where I thought the sink might be. It took a few sweeps of the hand across the wall to find the soap dispenser and the taps, but we were certainly on a roll. With nice clean mitts, I decided to give locating a hand dryer a miss, I had an icecream waiting!! I managed to find the door handle after a few attempts and was feeling rather accomplished having found my way around in the dark. That feeling faded somewhat when a.) I met a lady coming down the corridor using her phone to light the way for her. (smug looking in my most humble opinion)Just as well really because she was lacking a stick and I didn't fancy her chances in the toilets without one! and b.) when I emerged into brilliant sunshine, I discovered that whilst washing my hands, I'd also managed to soak the front of my top. It took the edge off my feeling of accomplishment if i'm honest, but on the up side, I hadn't exited the toilet with bog roll hanging out the back of my knickers, or my dress tucked in exposing my arse. I considered it was a winning experience for myself, and if I could have swaggered back I sure as hell would have!!

From Juliettes we mendered down the path way, in the shade of tees and coconut palms towards the harbour. Swimming is not allowed on the beaches at the moment, not because of the waves, but because of the marine stingers, jelly fish. There are notices at regular intervals all down the side of the beach advising what to do should you get stung, along with vinegar, that was the colour of antifreeze, to pour on a sting if you were stupid enough to go in the water despite being told not too. There are two beaches that are netted off, but they weren't where we were today, I will locate them if we have time. Just set back from the beach, is an interactive water park for kids, with a life guard on duty. It's a great place, shaded areas all around it and just an amazing space for kids on sunny days . A few yards on from it is the outdoor swimming pool, which was busy as well, so tempting, but too tired! We were looking for the ferry port to take us to Magnetic Island tomorrow, so we knew how much time to allow to get there in the morning. It was simple enough were able to find, just behind some amazing apartment blocks and houses on the marina. They were fabulous, the majority of the properties had private boats moored up outside, all gleaming white and chrome in the brilliant sunshine.

Again, the verges are immaculately kept, with incredible plants and grasses growing. It strikes me as a very well looked after area. What the rest of it is like, I have no idea but this part is lovely. The ferries go to the Island starting at 0500hrs and the last one returning at 2300hrs. One of the ferries is for cars and bikes and, the other is for foot passengers only. Thats the one we are taking. Magnetic Island is an inhabited Island, and has everything you need if you decided you wanted to stay in any of the numerous hotels, hostels and camp sites there. We considered it, but in the end decided that a day trip would be fine. We booked a package with sealink who run the ferries, and included in it, is car hire for the day, return ferry tickets and free drink each . It still workes out cheaper than a three hour bus trip and means we can please ourselves with what we want to do and where we want to go. Its a national park area so we are hoping to see lots of wildlife, both on land and in the water. I think I have read somwhere that they have stinger nets in some of the bays and even if they didn't, there are always some nice looking eating establishments to visit. We also discovered that the Greyhound bus departs from the same terminal which is fortunate, because we are getting on that on Friday morning to take us to our next destination. Not in any rush at all to get back to the Hotel we paused to watch two litle girls about Ella and Tilly's ages having the time of their life in the water park. There is a large bucket that once it was full, tips over and dumps a load of water onto unsuspecting little people who were beneath it. The two girls, knew it was coming and had led down on the floor waiting to get soaked by it. Their patience was severely lacking, and within two minutes they jumped up and wandered off towards their parents, as they did so, the bucket emptied, right onto the spot they had been lying. They ran as fast as their little legs could carry them to try and get back there before it all stopped. Ultimately they failed, and the look of disapointment on their litle faces was soon replaced with sass, attitude, folded arms and grumpy faces. They weren't grumpy for long and within seconds were shrieking with laughter doing something else. Isn't it great how kids are just always in the moment. I absolutely love that about them.

After waching a while, we thought we should probably get going, and we continued on our merry way. Underneath some trees, a couple were sat down at a picnic table , which they had covered with a white tablecolth, and serving up some delicious looking food to eat, happy Valentines day guys, I adore the effort that went into creating that particular moment in their history. At a balmy 35 degrees, we decided that hydration might be a good idea, and paid a visit to the supermarket just opposite the hotel for some large bottles of water, I hadn't realised how thirsty and how hot and bothered I was untill we hit the air conditioned store. Loaded up with bottles of water, we crossed over the road through the car park and into the hotel. It was quite busy, the bar was open, and there were a lot of people inside and outside. As we went through the courtyard at the back, some amusing quotes caught my eye, all beer or food related of course!! I have obviously taken photos of them all for my own amusement. The pool looked even more inviting when we walked by it again, but the room was calling. Well, no, that's a fib, the air con was calling and we were listening to it! Blissfully cool inside, Si poured me out of mildred. The bed was looking sooooo inviting, but we both knew if we gave in now and went to sleep we'd wake up feeling like absolute crap. So a bit of reading was undertaken until supper time. The hotel was offering a Valentines suppper, two courses with wine and as we were so pooped, we decided to give it a whirl. In honesty we weren't expecting great things, but holy cow, what we were presented with was beyond exceptional. Si had a lamb shank on creamy mash with green beans, and a red wine joux. The lamb fell off the bone and was melt in the mouth perfection. I had camambert wrapped chicken on green beans,and shredded carrots with a Kaluah sauce. Absolutely amazing! Like Si's it was cooked to perfection and presented beautifully. If I could have got away with it, I'd have picked the plate up and licked it clean to make sure I had got every last morsel! When the lovely waitress came to collect the plates, she asked if we had enjoyed. Clearly the empty plates hadn't conveyed the fact that we had. Whilst expressing our delight we asked if it was cooked from scratch or premade, the answer? All from scratch. The Chef is an artist, he really is, it was easily one of the best meals either of us had eaten in a very long while. The waitress, promised to pass our compliments along to the chef, along with our thanks when she returned to the kitchen with the plates. When she bought the desserts out, we had a lovely surprise, the Chef had very kindly put two of each dessert on a single plate. Two chocolate and almond Tortes with mint Ice cream, and two Pannacotta with blueberries and a huge caramilised buttescotch decoration on each one. The whole thing was topped off with drizzles of an amazing fruit sauce. My little eyes almost popped out of my head at the sight. Our waitress told us that the chef had worked in five star resorts and what was really lovely, was she said how lucky they were to have there. I felt a bit sorry for him because he had obviously gone to a lot of effort for Valentines day, and only us and another couple had taken up the offer. We both had a glass of red wine with it which was also in with deal and was pretty damn good too. The whole evening was really really nice, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Stuffed to almost overflowing we finished our drinks and Si paid the bill. A grand total of $70 for the lot and we returned to our room. An early night was definately needed in readiness for an early start and catching the Ferry to Magnetic Island, or Maggie as the locals call it.

Much Love


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